Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Mountain View: Cold Storage
Jay took us to a basement where he showed us the Victorian-era equivalent of the metal body storage boxes I showed you yesterday. In pre-refrigeration days, dead folks were temporarily kept below ground while they awaited whatever it was they awaited.
Well, it's what it looks like. My mother used to have one of these. You'd screw it onto the kitchen counter, feed meat through the cup and grind the meat into hamburger. This is an old item, but the modern equivalent upstairs looks pretty much the same, if shinier.
Now, hold on, nobody is grinding meat at Mountain View. As Jay explained, when a body is cremated you don't get 100% nice, fluffy ash. You some lumps.
Jay is descended from members of the Indiana Colony, the first Caucasian settlers of Pasadena. There had been whites here before, but these guys made it into a town. The colony arrived in 1874 and the cemetery was founded in 1882. Jay is a member of the Giddings family (the Giddings Browns, to be exact) who, if I have this straight, has owned the cemetery since the beginning. Or thereabouts. Jay remembers coming to the cemetery when he was about 12 years old and helping to arrange flowers. He's always been comfortable there.
He made us comfortable, too, oddly enough. People die, I'm sorry to say. Most of us don't like to think about this stuff but I'm glad some people have it figured out. We're not allowed to bury our loved ones in our back yards around here.
Here's an interesting though not conclusive list of people buried at Mountain View. And this 2005 LA Times article gets into a bit of detail about a few of the famous folks there.
I didn't ask Jay how many people are buried at Mountain View, but after 120 years, even the vastness of 60 acres will begin to fill up. We can talk about that tomorrow.